Smartphone now dominant device for buying online, IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reveals

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A major milestone in online retail has been passed as, for the first time, shoppers spent more money through their smartphones when accessing UK retail sites than either of the other two major device types – desktop or tablet – according to quarterly data from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

In Q4 2018/19, which covers the traditional Christmas retail quarter of Nov, Dec, and Jan, the share of sales revenue spent through smartphone devices was 40.4%, with desktop securing 39.7% and tablet 19.9%. A further milestone was reached in December 2018, where smartphones accounted for over 70% of mobile device sales for the first time (the other 30% was spent through tablets).

UK shoppers are also increasingly using mobile devices for accessing retail sites. In Q4, just under three quarters (74.3%) of site visits were made through mobile devices, with just 25.7% made through desktops. To give this some perspective: back in 2015, the percentage of visits coming through smartphones and tablets versus desktops was even.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG, said: “This is another significant step in smartphones becoming the dominant device through which we manage so many aspects of our lives. It has taken a little while though – the iPhone was first released in 2007, and for a long time people were visiting product pages through smartphones in large numbers but then completing purchases elsewhere. It wasn’t until late-2015 when it started to really gain traction as a fully transactional device for online shopping.

“This does not spell the end of other devices being used for online retail purchases, however – people tend to use multiple devices depending on which is most convenient. So, for example, during standard working hours a higher proportion of sales come through desktop as people are sat in front of their computers at work.”

Lucy Gibbs, Senior Consultant in Retail Analytics, Capgemini Invent: “Smartphones make it is easier than other forms to be truly omnichannel, which is about being where your customers are, and therefore are optimally placed for influencing the retail customer journey. The advancements over the last few years in mobile banking, in-app purchases and a greater focus on optimising m-commerce sites have all led to the facilitation and increased confidence in purchasing on smartphones. 

“Although smartphones have now reached largest share in revenue, they are still seeing the lowest conversion rates, behind tablets and desktop. However, the significance of our use of mobile in influencing our buying decisions should not be underestimated even when we are completing purchases elsewhere.”